2017 Arts and Sciences Faculty and Staff Awards

Written by Karen L. Bystrom
July 5, 2017

Arts and Sciences faculty and staff gather each June for “All College Day,” celebrating the completion of another academic year. One of the highlights is the All College Day Awards, which recognize faculty and staff achievements. Nominations are requested from across the college for seven awards. A selection committee makes recommendations to Dean David V. Powers, who also chooses the recipient of the annual Dean’s Award.

Outstanding Academic Advising Award

Erica Lilleleht, PhD, Psychology Department

Dr. Lilleleht has advised graduate and undergraduates students with issues ranging from helping students sort out how to read a program evaluation; recognize that when SUOnline says a class is closed, it really IS closed; navigating through difficult assignments; career mentoring; and challenging personal issues. Nominators agree that Dr. Lilleleht is “patient and an exceptionally good listener; works hard to earn the trust of advisees; takes their interests to heart, and advocates well for their needs institutionally and departmentally.” Undoubtedly, this is in part due to her native talents, but is likewise due to her training as a clinical psychologist.

Outstanding Collegiality Award

Maria Carl, PhD, Philosophy Department

Twenty years ago, Dr. Carl stepped on to the SU campus, bringing laughter, a disarming wit, and dedication to students and department. Anyone serving on committees with her no doubt heard those gentle barbs at sometimes odd and antiquated policies, rules and regulations; those not-so-gentle observations of our institutional inequities; and amazing ability to drag into a conversation a quote from some long-dead person of acclaim. Dr. Carl is described as showing “care toward each member of the staff and faculty. Under her leadership, the contract faculty in the department have more consistent and predictable teaching schedules and have received departmental faculty development funds to support their scholarship. She checks in with each member of the department regularly to see how they are doing and to find ways that she can make their professional lives more productive and pleasant.” “You know when she’s present because she and other members of the department will be laughing and making jokes.”

Outstanding Contract Faculty Award

Jason Miller. PhD, Anthropology, Sociology, and Social Work Department

Dr. Miller is a Seattle University alum, described as one who “deeply empathizes with the needs and concerns of our undergraduates and devotes countless extra hours of effort to significantly enrich their SU. experience. As a creative, inspiring classroom teacher and as a gifted, sensitive mentor to students,” Dr. Miller has had a profoundly positive impact on both our majors and undergraduates in other programs across the university, in particular on the many Honors students mentored. Accolades for Dr. Miller include: virtually unprecedented service contributions, a prime mover in the overhaul of the program’s curriculum, and building strong relationships between the department and the Center for Community Engagement, which has repeatedly recognized him for his expertise in community-based learning (including the award of a 2015 Service Learning Faculty Fellowship). Students are devoted to him and seek his classes whenever they are offered. Dr. Miller is also described as having keen intelligence, compassion, and unfailing good humor.

Outstanding Scholarship Award

Gabriella Gutiérrez y Muhs, PhD, Modern Languages and Cultures and Women and Gender Studies

Gutiérrez y Muhs is a widely published author, a renowned public speaker locally, nationally, and internationally, and is a commissioner for ArtsWA – Washington State Arts Commission.

Dr. Gutiérrez y Muhs published two books this year. One is a book of poetry, The Runaway Poems (Finishing Line Press, 2016) and the other an edited volume, a book of critical essays on the work of Norma Cantu, Word Imagines: New Perspectives on Canicula and Other Works by Norma Cantu (University of Arizona Press, 2016).

She has also published seven other articles, book chapters, and introductions to edited volumes in the last year. This includes: “Performing Identity Unknowingly,” in Mexicana Fashions, edited by Norma Cantu and Aida Hurtado, 2017; “Capirotada: A Renewed Chicana Spirituality through a Chicana Literary Lens,” in (Re) mapping the Latina/o Literary Landscape, edited by Christina Herrera and Larissa Mercado- Lopez (Palgrave Macmillian, 2016); and “Under the LA Freeways,” Camino Real. 9:1, 2017. Finally, she is publishing a second forthcoming volume of poetry, How Many Indians Can We Be?, Mango Publications, 2017.

She has published six books in all, including two books of poetry, two edited volumes and one major book, Communal Feminisms: Chicanas, Chilenas, and Cultural Exile (Lexington Books, 2007; in paperback, 2010) on the works of Chicana authors, and one edited volume of works on women of color in the academy, Presumed Incompetent. She has published a total of fifteen articles between 2000 and 2015.

Dr. Gutiérrez y Muhs’ works come from what one nominator called her “indefatigable commitment” and “unyielding devotion” to the production of knowledge in varied genres. Her colleagues refer to her as a true renaissance woman, widely recognized and reviewed as a significant Chicana poet, “a literacy critic and analyst, but she is also a documentarian and archeologist, who attends very carefully to how the larger society of the American academy is taking account of the academic work done by women of color.”

Outstanding Service Award

Kate Elias, PhD, Assistant Dean for Student Academic Support

After just seven years in her role, Dr. Elias has, according to a nominator, “a unique ability to manage in a compassionate and effective way the often complex and challenging student issues, whether it be a faculty/student conflict, student mental health concerns, concerned parents, or other various hardships. Dr. Elias is present with the students and provides them the information they need to make the decisions warranted for their situation.” Speaking to her primary role, Dr. Josh Krawczyk notes that, she “is asked to balance often-competing priorities among students, college faculty, and college and university administration. She models leadership and student support in her daily work, and her attention to detail is an asset to the university in many leadership roles and partnerships.” She serves on numerous university committees, having a keen understanding of policies and procedures to helping students survive and thrive here at SU. She does this by listening to all perspectives, paying attention to the student experience. Nominators are quite impressed by her personal and professional qualities, and being a strong advocate for professional development and student advising.

Outstanding Teaching Award

Angelique Davis, JD, Political Science Department

Professor Davis’ nomination included 14 signatories from seven different departments. The testimonials and accolades come from fellow professors, staff, and students. Colleagues describe her pedagogical approach as “teaching students inside and outside the classroom in a way that reflects a deep commitment to the mission of Seattle University.” They note that beginning in 2010, she designed a unique undergraduate research fellowship cohort for students seeking to put into practice all they had learned about historical and contemporary systemic forms of power and resistance. The Fred T. Korematsu Fellowship, was named after Fred T. Korematsu who resisted the internment and incarceration of Japanese Americans in WWII.

Of this work a former student, now a Ph.D. student at Cornell University, says: “It is not an exaggeration to state that Professor Davis changed my entire worldview. Her enthusiasm for law and politics was contagious and inspired my educational and career goals!”

More recently, Professor Davis developed another fellowship program, this time focusing on chronicling the work and stories of the Mothers’ United for Justice organization in Milwaukee. A current fellow remarks, “She has helped shaped my life for the better by guiding me through the research fellowship, by providing her valuable time to work with me, and by providing safe spaces for all of us to heal.”


Another states, “She is honestly one of the few professors in my undergraduate education who has opened my mind to many things and has taught me that moving through a text, concept or idea should be challenging and that I should strive to learn about it and about myself.”

Outstanding Staff Award

Em Olson, Fine Arts and Performing Arts/Arts Leadership

This year, Em Olson stands out among the many worthy staff for, as one nominator says, “her outstanding, fearless, tireless” commitment to serving several departments and service on high-level college committees. Her work often goes unnoticed by those who benefit from it. She juggles budgets, manages high profile events and centers on campus. She is an artist herself, somehow coping with details and time-sensitive tasks, all the while keeping the big picture in mind.

Ms. Olson shines in every job put to her; helping distribute workload, completing (and understanding) all the processes involved in running a program, paperwork (and there is a lot), marketing, catering, permits, equipment rental, coordination of outside talent…and the list goes on.

She served this year as staff representative of the Faculty Staff Senate to the A&S Executive Committee (the first and only staff representative voice on both the Executive Committee and the Budget Advisory Committee), and before that as representative for the Faculty Staff Assembly.  One colleague said, “She is a wonderful colleague. She’s our first rep in EC and has done an excellent job. She also is on the budget advisory committee where her budget acumen has come in handy. She’s friendly, fun and gets involved.” 


Another says, “She is the kind of “get it done” person that I know I can always count on. If I call her up she’s always either ready with an answer or ready to work together to come up with a solution.” Finally, a nominator put it this way: “We would like her work to be recognized in this case precisely because she is doing it so well, and without her our departments would not function. Hail to our Operations Manager!”

Dean’s Award

Sarah Curtis-Tilton, Senior Administrative Assistant, Nonprofit Leadership

This year’s Dean’s Award is framed as an “Unsung Heroes” award for Sarah Curtis-Tilton, who made a significant contribution, worked closely with a growing group of people, but hasn’t been widely visible to the entire college. Ms. Curtis-Tilton took on a massive data collection project across all thirty-plus departments and programs for the “Academic Affairs Portfolio and Operations Review” conducted across the university. Working with all of our department chairs and program directors, she collected data from across the campus for an extraordinarily complex project.

Our congratulations to all of the nominees and recipients and our thanks to Heather Ries, Bruce Decker, Kate Reynolds, Kevin Krycka and the College Awards Committee for their hard work on our annual celebration.